Was it OK for Snowden to leak secrets?
June 12th, 2013
06:32 PM ET
1 year ago

Was it OK for Snowden to leak secrets?

(CNN) - Was it right or wrong for Edward Snowden to leak information about secret government surveillance programs?

A new national poll indicates Americans are divided.

Documents Snowden provided to journalists revealed the existence of secret National Security Agency programs to collect records of domestic telephone calls in the United States and the internet activity of overseas residents. Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong, was fired from his position Monday at the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm. The FBI is investigating the leaks.

According to a survey by Gallup that was conducted Monday and Tuesday and released Wednesday, 44% said it was right for Snowden to share information about the surveillance programs, with 42% saying it was wrong and 14% unsure.

There was a slight partisan divide, with nearly half of Republicans and independents questioned saying it was right for Snowden to leak the information. That number drops to 39% among Democrats.

The Gallup poll questioned 1,008 adults nationwide by telephone, with an overall sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points. The question regarding Snowden's actions was asked to half the respondents, with a sampling error of plus or minus six percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: NSA • Polls
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    No it wasn't, just like it wasn't for Bradley Manning to either.

    Although it doesn't take away from the truth of the matters either.

    June 12, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Evergreen

    Sounds like Snowden watched a few too many Jason Bourne movies. There good guys, bad guys and worse guys. It's not up to him to decide who is who.

    June 12, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  3. boungiorno

    It isn't okay that he leaked information. But, it did shed light on a very important topic; that the Goverment has overstepped it's BOUNDRIES

    June 12, 2013 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  4. saywhat

    Whether the authorities overstepped the bounds of Constitution, infringed upon the 4th & 5th amendment ? Thisshould be the poll about.

    June 12, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  5. king

    hell no its not OK for this guy to warn the terrorist what this government is doing to snag them. hey folks believe it or not we are still fighting a war against ideology, not a country, and with a country you can box them in, with an ideology its way more difficult than that, because the enemy might be sitting across your dinner table at home. how can you fight against that! we have folks that believe America should not exist, and its not only Islam, you would be surprise who will like to see America to be wiped off the map. hey if they are collecting information about Americans and storing it, hey if they are not violating our privately act and monitoring every phone calls or internet stuff, hey i say you've got to do what you must to keep the people safe. as i said this is not a traditional war we are fighting, but a frame of mind, and that is a war that might last hundreds of generations, until we all start thinking as human beings and not on concepts.

    June 12, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  6. saywhat

    the question we should ask is:
    Whether the bounds of Constitution overstepped and 4th &5th amendments attacked with Prism?

    June 12, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    If he felt criminal behavior was going on, which would have been, if being used for political data mining purposes, then he was entirely justified in making that situation public, yes.

    It is clear, much more was going on here, than simply national security.

    June 12, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  8. ge

    i guess in a country where journalism died years ago you need somebody telling truth

    June 12, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. boungiorno

    the Goverment overstepped the BOUNDRIES OF TRUST with US citezins

    June 12, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  10. RWB1956

    Wow, I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist which I don't usually care for,,but all this sounds a little fishy to me. The timing and all. Sort of like the consulate attack on 9-11-12. I mean why did that video turn up about that time? Is someone spending a lot of money to make all this happen? And it all seems to want to make President Obama look bad beyond the Republican base. Just a passing thought. Have a nice day.

    June 12, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  11. Mema

    YES, anyone brave enough to TELL US the Truth is an American hero! AMERICA please stand by the Whistle Blowers whom have given up everything and risked their lives to bring US truth. I just wish our Politicians had the COURAGE to tell US the truth about everything, but they will not for fear of loosing everything. Cowards they are in my eye's!

    June 12, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  12. AZ Girl

    So all you people that considered him a "hero" for starting all this and RUNNING AWAY to a foreign country after STEALING top secret documents; how you feel now after he told that SAME foriegn country that our govt hacked their systems? A foreign country that less than oh 40 or so years ago, we weren't so "friendly" with? Oh! Or completely DISSED our legal system because he "trusts" theirs more. China! Where they SHOOT peaceful protesters unapologetically in front of the entire world!

    This man should be yanked back to the US by his pertruding ears and be put on trial in front of a jury of his peers for treasonous acts.

    June 12, 2013 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. don in albuquerque

    I guess it was okay. Would like to find out who he sold secrets too just before he gets the same treatment as Maj. Andre, and Nathan Hale. Fed up with people hiding behind the terms press, or whistleblower. You sell or divulge classified information there should be no doubt in your mind what the outcome will be.

    June 12, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. S.B. Stein

    I would like to know the lengths he went to try to correct the policy while in the system.

    June 12, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  15. Michael

    It might be okay for this man to be a "whistleblower" about excesses regarding activities in America BUT telling secrets about how we spy on China is TREASON. Period. No way that can be construed to be "whistleblowing"

    June 12, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. Evergreen

    There are good guys, bad Guys and worse guys. It was not his job to determine who's who.

    June 12, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. MW

    The gallup poll says "More Americans disapprove (53%) than approve (37%) of the federal government agency program that as part of its efforts to investigate terrorism obtained records from U.S. telephone and Internet companies to "compile telephone call logs and Internet communications." Where do you get 44%? Come on CNN.

    June 12, 2013 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  18. Raadgast

    It was arguably wrong to pass the patriot act, and it was illegal to leak what they are doing it with. The fear is someday the governments perception of the enemy may be directed towards ideological groups or individuals within the US which "they" will thwart any attempts by the people to reclaim government by popular revolt using technology for the few to control the many.

    June 12, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. simplefaith

    I believe Snowden is a crook! Reason is how could he gain such an important job at age 29 without a high school degree. How did he be accepted in the Intelligence world wouldout experience. He did not stay long at the different jobs he held. He has something up his sleeve. When you get a top secret clearance you are intrusted with sensitive material. Snowden must have signed a non-disclosure agreement and would be punishable with imprisonment if classified information disclosed to the enemy. It is NOT okay to give out classified information. There are foreign countries that are already hacking our computers. I cherish the government to keep watch over our information to keep it out of enemy hands. I have no problem with the government monitoring our emails. As a matter of fact I feel safe. At least the service is FREE. Only when people have something to hide wants privacy!!

    June 12, 2013 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  20. Expat Eyes

    When I was in the 8th grade in 1959 in the USA, my government teacher said that as decades pass, democratic governments will progress more toward socialism and socialistic governments will progress more toward democracy.

    This progressive switch is the only way governing bodies feel they can justify themselves because they tend to outgrow the reason for governance and begin to take governance to new highs according to their order of rule so they can stay in power.

    Many times these changes will be done under the disguise of illustrating to the governed society that the governing body is 'doing its job' to insure changes in government shall meet the needs of the people/society.

    If you enjoy democracy as it ‘was’ in the USA, then this Edward Snowden is on the correct path and is the Paul Revere of the technological age; if you want more socialism, then Edward Snowden is a traitor!

    Point: How true to reality my government teacher was in his knowledge he shared.

    June 12, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  21. Brandon Katrena

    The National Security Agency (NSA) leaker should have kept his mouth shut. He should have remained Loyal to his Obligations and to his Oaths to keep information secret. And he should have remained Loyal to Our Government. - Brandon

    June 12, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  22. Thomas

    That depends on who he's working for , was in under contract , did he sign a statement.

    Did he break the law , if so is it ok ?

    What harm did he do , what did he actually accomplish ?

    June 12, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  23. Monomachos

    Do we really want low level, unelected, contract employees deciding what should or should not be classified? I don't think so.

    June 12, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  24. J.

    To be honest, in my opinion it was NOT OK for Snowden to leak secrets to the public!

    If you are in this kind of business, Snowden responsibility was to keep this secret (even if he like it or not) as it protects the national security and american interests worldwide.

    June 12, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  25. GI Joe

    I believe he's a traitor, and I believe Obama will be blamed for what another Bush appointee heads up - they call him Emporor Keith Alexander, he's the General that has actively led and been involved with the rules for FISA courts and NSA. Check his bio on google.

    Then come on back here and keep pouring it all on Obama. We're watching you, and we know you will do it.

    June 12, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
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